With more mumps cases, College of Charleston shifts messaging to contain outbreak

"Don't let mumps ruin your fun. Get vaccinated!"


With more than 40 cases of mumps now confirmed at the College of Charleston, the school has taken a few new approaches over the past week to contain the outbreak on campus.

Beginning with three cases confirmed by officials on Sept. 23, the school’s weekly update reported 43 confirmed cases on Nov. 14 — a 65 percent jump from the 26 cases noted a week earlier on Nov. 7.

College of Charleston does require students to have the three-part MMR vaccine that prevents the spread of mumps in most cases, but they are able to request a waiver. Of more than 12,600 student medical records on file, 196 have submitted waivers, the school told the Charleston City Paper in September.

“We will get through this together. In the meantime, every member of our campus community can and should take steps to safeguard themselves and others against mumps,” read the Nov. 14 update from CofC President Andrew T. Hsu. Previous dispatches were signed by campus emergency officials.

“We are always evaluating the effectiveness of our various communications and making adjustment as needed,” says Ron Menchaca, the College’s director of communications. “With this latest update, which included an announcement of a targeted vaccine clinic, the College opted to issue the message directly from the president to differentiate it from previous updates from our Emergency Management Team.”
[content-3] The other new approach, that “targeted vaccine clinic,” is specifically geared toward fraternities and sororities, but is open to anyone on campus — scheduled for Tues. and Wed. this week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Stern Student Center ballroom.

“The targeted vaccine clinic for students involved in fraternity and sorority activities is being held in response to a recommendation from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to known risks factors inherent in this population (living/socializing in close quarters, potential sharing of items that could transfer saliva, etc.),” says Menchaca.


A representative from S.C. DHEC says that the targeted clinic isn’t necessarily for those who have not received the vaccine, but rather for those in at-risk communities to receive a second or third dose in order to maximize their protections against illness.

Along with the climbing number of confirmed mumps cases and the clinic announcement, the school has also started new PSA-style posts around campus and on on social media.

“Don’t let mumps ruin your fun. Get vaccinated!” says one of the posts in large block letters above a list of five tips for avoiding the contagious disease.

Those steps include self-isolating if you feel sick, practicing good hygiene, monitoring your own health, remaining vigilant to those around you, and topping the list is getting vaccinated.

Those on campus can seek treatment with Student Health Services, located behind the Robert Scott Smalls building near Calhoun Street or at studenthealth.cofc.edu.

In any case, many students will likely leave campus over the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 27-30. The last day of exams is Dec. 11, when students will likely leave again until residence halls re-open on Jan. 5, 2020.

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